What Is RT-PCR Test For Travel

Even though travel restrictions are not as strict as they were during the initial stages of the pandemic, RT-PCR testing is still crucial for anyone planning to travel at this time. Real-Time RT PCR is a highly sensitive method of testing for different viruses, including the Covid-19 virus. The interesting bit about this test is that it can give you the results within an hour of being performed. 

What Is Real-Time RT-PCR?

RT-PCR stands for Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction. The reaction uses RNA as testing material. RNA (ribonucleic acid) is a single-stranded nucleic acid and it is usually found in viruses as viral RNA. The test used fluorescent dyes as markers to identify genetic materials that are specific to the virus being tested for. In a real-time process, the scientists can identify this material while the process is ongoing instead of waiting for it to end. Many places offer Real-Time RT-PCR services however most places can take 3 hours or so to determine the results. Very few places can offer this service with results within a single hour, and one of these places includes CarePlus Family Clinic.

How Is It Different From PCR?

Reverse transcription is a process used to make complementary DNA (cDNA) from a strand of RNA. The covid-19 virus does not have DNA, therefore it needs to be transcripted from the RNA present in the virus to have PCR be performed on it. 

PCR is a   highly-used diagnostic test, used for viruses such as Ebola. Both PCR and RT-PCR can be performed in real-time as well.  

Advantages Of Real-Time RT-PCR

First of all, it can be used to identify the amplified cDNA from the virus while the PCR is in process. This naturally makes it a highly-efficient test, providing rapid results which can greatly benefit the patient. 

RT-PCR is a highly-sensitive test as well and its positive findings are highly specific to the covid-19 virus too. Conventional RT-PCR is lower in specificity compared to Realt-Time PCR as well.  

There are quite a few procedures performed after the process is over to identify the genetic markers which determine the virus. These processes may include gel electrophoresis, probe hybridization, and even the ELISA test. Real-Time RT-PCR is much quicker since the observations made during the process eliminate the need for endpoint analysis.  

Lastly, Real-Time RT-PCR is also highly reliable because the entire process is performed in a single vessel, unlike conventional RT-PCR which requires the products to be transferred and tested in different variations which can risk the products being contaminated. The contamination of these products may ultimately hamper the test results as well. 

Why Is It Important For Travelling?

Real-Time RT-PCR is the ideal test for traveling outside the USA. You can get tested the same day or 1 hour at UMCMRI before you board the plane and, provided that you do not enter crowded areas in this period, you are in the clear for your travel plans. 

Similarly, in case you test positive, you can plan your isolation and treatment accordingly as well and be able to shift your travel plans to a later date as necessary. The test is necessary to prevent spreading the virus to other people on the plane. Real-Time RT-PCR is also a more reliable method of testing than traditional RT-PCR, which makes it better for traveling as well.  


Real-Time RT-PCR is a highly reliable and efficient method of testing. Places such as Care Plus Family Clinic have made it even more efficient and therefore rapid testing in Fresno and other areas with quick Real-Time RT-PCR is being used to control the pandemic situation in the country. 

Frequently Asked Questions:

Depending on your destination, you may have different requirements for COVID testing. Please review the latest information here. For most destinations, you’ll need to have a test within 72 hours of your flight. Please check in online or call to confirm.

Rapid COVID-19 tests in clinic are $125. Full payment is due at the time of testing. We accept credit card payments on-site.

If you’re visiting CarePlus Family Clinic, please contact your health insurance provider for questions around coverage.

Please bring your flight reservation information to the CarePlus Family Clinic.

Our trained clinical staff will collect the sample via a nose swab and process results on-site. Results are available within about 15 minutes.

For families traveling with small children, we can provide COVID-19 testing for children older than 3 months.